Energy Efficiency in Refining: Picking the low hanging fruit

 By Samiya Parvez, Process Engineer, FUOR

In view of a planned increase in carbon taxation and reduced fossil fuel demand, there appears to be a sword of closure hanging over several European Refineries unless they turn to more sustainable operation while remaining profitable. Refineries today are looking at implementing new technologies such as sustainable hydrogen production, plastic recycling, renewable / e-fuels production etc. Most of these require typically large investments and meticulous project planning. Given that the most sustainable form of energy is that, which is not consumed, a big-ticket item, which can help in the short term, is reduced total energy consumption. Energy efficiency measures often have the lowest abatement cost in Euro/ton CO2 avoided as well as the shortest payback times.
Not many new fossil fuel-based refineries are expected to come online in the future, but sustainable design and operating principles can be actively employed on revamp projects, as well as to refineries that do or will process alternative feedstocks. This presentation will highlight opportunities to improve energy efficiency in existing facilities by demonstrating possibilities on heat recovery and integration. These possibilities are at fired heater design, heat exchanger networks and implementation of novel heating / cooling equipment in the right places. Further, there are improvement in distillation column performance, low temperature heat recovery and re-use of low-level heat, fuel / resource substitution, replacement of control valves by variable speed drive systems and many more.
Many of the technological solutions required, to significantly reduce energy consumption in European refineries, have regained attractiveness in view of higher energy prices and the advent of an annually rising carbon tax. In addition to highlighting areas for improving energy efficiency in refineries, we intend to raise awareness of successful implementation of technical solutions by discussing case studies with tangible benefits.

Presentation file here